No Species For Feces

| Omaha, NE, USA | Pets & Animals

(A couple comes in with a bag holding a few dead Cory catfish.)

Me: “Is there anything I can help you with?”

Female Customer: “We have some fish that didn’t make it.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have any other fish in the tank these came from?”

Male Customer: “Yes.”

Female Customer: “We have a couple of those over there…” *points at the mollies* “…and a few of those…” *points at some tetras* “…and one of those suckers, too.”

Me: “Are all your other fish doing okay?”

Male Customer: “Some of those stripy ones died, but they were ate up.”

Me: “Alright. What size tank do you have then? Twenty gallons? Larger?”

(The male customer motions with his hands; it’s definitely not a large tank.)

Me: “It looks like you have a ten gallon or so. How many fish did you say you have in there?”

Female Customer: “About twenty or so.”

Me: “And how often do you do water changes?”

Male Customer: “We put new water in weekly.”

Me: “How much water do you take out each time?”

Female Customer: “None. We just add to it when the water evaporates.”

(At this point, I take the time to explain to them the basics of proper tank maintenance. I also explain to them that their tank is too small for the amount of fish currently being housed inside of it. This takes a few minutes for them to understand, but finally they seem to get it.)

Me: “If you move to a larger tank, siphon and do water changes your fish will be healthier.”

Female Customer: “I just don’t understand why we have to clean the gravel.”

Me: “That is where most of the fish waste gathers. Your filter will not get it all.”

Female Customer: “But that’s why we bought those things for! To eat all the poop! But they didn’t do anything, and then they died.”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Male Customer: “They were supposed to be cleaning fish, but they never cleaned anything.”

Me: “You bought these fish with the expectation they would eat the other fishes’ waste?”

Female Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Yes, they are bottom feeders, and yes some people buy them to keep the tank a bit tidier; they’ll eat food that reaches the bottom. However, they don’t eat poop. I don’t believe we sell fish that live off of the waste of other fish.”

Male Customer: “Well, you should!”